The series of tax changes that have impacted on the buy-to-let sector have certainly proved unsettling for landlords and agents alike.
Now, the Government has moved to publish its consultation on banning letting agent fees, in an attempt to prevent hidden charges and stop tenants being hit by costly upfront payments.
While this move his been welcomed in some circles, others have called for more clarity about the regulatory future of the market.
In response to the announcement on the consultation on the banning of letting agent fees, Chris Norris, head of policy at the National Landlords Association (NLA) observed: ‘Yet again the government has published plans to tackle a particular element of the letting agency market, whilst at the same time suggesting other areas that they ‘might’ like to look at in the future.’
‘It is about time that landlords and agents were given some certainty about the market’s regulatory future – which could be easily achieved by agreeing an over-arching system of regulation for letting agents once and for all,’ he continued.
In particular, Norris expressed concern that the scope of the Government’s consultation looks to have moved to include tenancy deposits. Suggestions are rife that a cap could well be necessary.
Mr Norris said: ‘This looks like yet another attempt to affix a sticking plaster to a perceived problem without really understanding what is driving behaviour in the real world.’
Richard Price, executive director of UKALA, believes that the consultation could be another step towards the complete regulation of agents.
‘Small agents in this market are drowning in constant policy interventions. The publication of this consultation in isolation, at a time when we’re awaiting further proposals on requirements for all agents to hold client money protection insurance, is proof that this government does not have a clear vision for the future of the sector, he noted.